Do You Breakfast?

HoneymoonBreakfast is, by far, my favorite meal of the day.  If I didn’t have to rush out the door each morning for work, I’d take the time to prepare poached eggs, migas or cinnamon french toast with strawberries (paired with a coconut milk cappuccino or mimosa, of course!).  Getting to enjoy breakfast is one of my favorite parts of vacation and the weekends.

But reality is most of us just don’t have time for that. Most of you, I can imagine, skip breakfast altogether most mornings.  I’m sure you’ve heard it time and again, but breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.  It jump starts your metabolism, gives you energy, and prevents the hunger that puts you in a bad mood or causes you to overeat later in the day.  Plus, a healthy breakfast gives your body the best chance of absorbing those vitamins and minerals more easily at the start of the day, cutting down on your cravings later.

When my doctor told me last Fall that I needed to add 80 grams of protein into my diet each day, I knew that I would have to find a way to increase my intake at breakfast.  I thought I would share a few of my quick go-to favorites for those of you looking to mix up your routine:

Poached Eggs on Sprouted Wheat Toast with AvocadoPoached Eggs

If you have an egg poaching pan, this option is as fast and easy as boiling an egg.  While the eggs are cooking, I toast a piece of sprouted wheat bread (read why here), slather with organic butter or coconut oil and then top with sliced avocado.  It takes me about 7 minutes total to throw together this delicious, filling meal.

On a side note, I always make sure to buy free-range, organic, soy-free eggs because they are the most nutrient-dense.  I get this local brand at Whole Foods/Natural Grocers and love them; you truly can taste the freshness: Coyote Creek Farms.

Egg Bacon Muffins

I originally found this recipe on one of my favorite health blogs, Wellness Mama, and I love its versatility.  It is so incredibly easy to mix up a batch and throw in whatever extra vegetables are in your fridge.  Also, bacon!  I will make these on Sunday night for the week.  I usually eat a couple of these at a time – wrap them in foil and warm a few minutes in the toaster oven, then eat them in the car.  If you want to nix the bacon for whatever crazy reason, you can also just whip up some eggs, throw in some diced veggies and bake in muffin tins for mini frittatas.

“Bento Box”Bento Box

This is another one of those easy make-ahead options that you can put in a container to grab on your way out the door.  Simply boil a couple of eggs (can’t boil an egg? try this!), throw in a few berries for an antioxidant boost and then I add a muffin or two that I’ve baked on Sunday.  This gluten-free banana muffin is one of my favorite & totally healthy recipes – you can add in a couple tablespoons raw honey if you like it sweeter or some dark chocolate chips and nuts for some texture.

Greek Yogurt & Grain-Free Granola

Yogurt and GranolaGreek Yogurt is a yummy way to get some great protein in the AM with 15 g in 1 cup.  I personally love the Wallaby brand made with organic whole milk from pasture-raised cows and no artificial ingredients. Then, I top with some grain-free granola and fresh berries.  I recently found this Wildway Granola at Whole Foods and fell in love… it’s not cheap but it’s packed with fiber & protein (8g), is completely raw, has no added sweeteners. It is made entirely of fruit, nuts, and seeds, so is gluten-free, paleo and truly the healthiest pre-made version of granola you can buy.  P.S. I also love this as a late night protein snack to help me fall asleep.

GoMacro Bars

If you want an option with zero prep, try these tasty, wholesome breakfast bars.  My favorite is the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip with 12 grams of protein.  I love this brand because they are organic, GMO-free, soy free (try finding another protein bar that is, especially with chocolate), free of refined sugar AND are reasonably priced compared to other options.  The whole mission of GoMacro is to provide a “macrobiotic” or minimally processed, found-in-nature product. You can buy them individually or by the case for a discount at Whole Foods or Natural Grocers.

Any other healthy breakfast ideas? Please share – I am always looking to mix it up!

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Lemon Essential Oil

In my last post, I included a reader poll on future blog topics and the majority has spoken….you want to learn more about essential oils.  So, I’ve decided to start a series on oils, focusing on different ones and how I use them.  Today, I’m going to start with one of my favorites – LEMON

Lemon OilLemon essential oil is highly concentrated – cold-pressed from the rind, it takes 75 lemons to make one 15ml bottle. If you have heard about the benefits of drinking lemon water each morning, lemon oil is an easier alternative to stocking up on lemons each week, and the lack of citric acid can be easier on your stomach and teeth. Just a drop of lemon essential oil in a glass of water can have a lot of benefits first thing in the morning:

  • Rehydrates your body after 8 or so hours of no water, reinvigorating your body and brain
  • Helps flush your digestive system & promotes stomach acid production to aid in digestion throughout the day
  • Boosts metabolism
  • Calms the body, reducing stress and helping your adrenals prepare to tackle the day
  • Gets vitamin C into your body first thing, boosting your immune system
  • It’s a powerful antioxidant, which combats free radicals in the body – learn more about that here
  • Suffering from post-nasal drip?  Lemon in hot water with raw honey can soothe a sore throat.
  • Note: I only ingest the Young Living brand of essential oils as not all brands are safe internally

My husband and I love citrus scents, so it’s one of my favorite oils to diffuse and fill our home with a lovely energizing aroma.  It’s a great air freshener to get rid of odors… I have been really thankful for it when we’ve left trash in the house during a weekend away, returning to that awful permeating smell; a few minutes in the diffuser does wonders. On that same note, (although I must be the only one who does this) if you accidentally leave your laundry in the wash for a few minutes too long before moving it to the dryer or the dryer doesn’t fully dry your bulky load of towels, you know that your clothes will smell terribly musty/mildewy.  Instead of rewashing, rub some lemon oil on a dryer sheet and throw it in the dryer to make your laundry fresh and clean again – it’s amazing!

In addition to the two ways above, there are many other ways that you can use lemon oil around the house. I mix my own totally safe & cheap all-purpose cleaner & disinfectant to use all over – the kitchen, bathroom and windows/mirrors (streak-free!).  It’s a simple mixture of one part white vinegar, one part water and 10-20 (depending on your “part” size) drops of lemon oil in a spray bottle.  The lemon helps a lot with the vinegar smell, but if you still can’t stand it, there are plenty of other recipes on Pinterest.  You can also make your own easy furniture polish by replacing the water with olive oil in the mixture above, adjusting ratios as needed depending on your wood varnish and how well it absorbs.  Polish with a microfiber cloth to protect and clean your wood furniture. Depending on how much you want make at a time, you may want to use a glass spray bottle as citrus oils can eat through plastic.  And one last cleaning tip – lemon oil can help remove anything sticky, including gum from hair.

Beyond being a staple in my medicine cabinet & under-the-sink, lemon oil is also a go-to in my cosmetic drawer.  I mix it with coconut oil to use as a face moisturizer each morning; it helps balance my oily skin and helps heal any blemishes.  Lemon oil is known to improve circulation so is great for making cellulite disappear (hello, nearing swimsuit season) and I’ve heard it helps with varicose veins as well.

I literally use lemon oil every day and don’t know what I would do without it.  Interested in giving it a try?  Learn more about purchasing essential oils here.

How do you use lemon oil? I’m always wanting to hear more ways essential oils help people!

A Birthday Treat

Coconut-Honey Mousse with Toasted Coconut, Almonds & Dark Chocolate Chips

I can’t resist celebrating my birthday with a little something sweet. Here’s a recipe that won’t destroy your health, but sure doesn’t taste healthy.

Whipped Coconut & Honey Mousse

Ingredients:

  • 1 can full fat (this is the good kind of fat) organic coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons local honey
  • 1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
  • Optional toppings: dark chocolate chips, roasted coconut flakes & sliced almonds

Open the can of coconut milk and put in the fridge overnight uncovered. You’ll find that the top 3/4 of the can has hardened enough where you can scoop out the coconut milk. Scoop out the hardened part (its okay if you get some of the liquid at the bottom) into a mixing bowl. Add the honey and vanilla extract and then whip with beaters or your whisk attachment until it has the consistency of whipped cream. Then separate into a few ramekins – I usually get 5-6 servings out of a full can. I toss some coconut flakes and sliced almonds in some melted coconut oil, a dash of cinnamon and a little honey before putting on a cookie sheet to toast in the oven for a few minutes. And/or you can add a few dark chocolate chips – I found some without any soy at Natural Grocers!

And now time to devour the deliciousness by the spoonful…. Enjoy!

Spoonful of Goodness

Parmesan Pesto Chicken with Herb-Stuffed Brussel Sprouts

Pesto Chicken and Brussel Sprouts

Trying to recover from all the cookies and carbs you devoured over the holidays but still craving the rich flavors?  Here’s a new recipe I created for you to try this weekend that is loaded with tastiness and nutrients.  Seriously, I could not stop saying “mmm!” the entire time I was eating this (and then again when I ate the leftovers), just ask my husband.  Hope you enjoy as much as I did!

Pesto Chicken Thighs

One of the “Four Pillars of Authentic Cuisine” I discussed in yesterday’s post was cooking meat on the bone.  Here’s a great way to put this pillar on your menu.  You’ll need:

  • 10 organic, pasture raised chicken thighs (bone-in with skin)
  • 1/2 cup of pesto (see recipe below)
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated organic Parmesan cheese
  • juice from 1-2 organic lemon(s)
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper (around 1 tablespoon of each)

To make a batch of pesto, combine 2 cups fresh, washed basil leaves with two cloves of garlic, 1/4 cup of pine nuts or raw almonds, 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil and salt and pepper in a food processor and chop until a smooth paste.  Then put in an airtight container and store in the freezer.  I store it in small 1/2 cup containers and just take it out to thaw whenever I need it for a recipe.

For the chicken, first rinse the chicken thighs and put them skin up into a 9×13 glass baking dish (line with foil or spread a thin layer of coconut oil on the bottom for easy clean up).  Next, massage the chicken to separate the skin from the meat and create a little pouch for your pesto mix. Stir the Parmesan cheese into your pesto and then distribute among the chicken thighs, stuffing the mixture into the pouches.  Then, sprinkle your lemon juice over the chicken thighs, along with the olive oil and salt and pepper. Rub all that goodness into the skin a little.  Put into a 375 degree oven for 35-40 minutes, or until browned on the top.  I usually check a little on the early side (because overcooked chicken not only tastes dry but also loses its nutrients) and use a meat thermometer to determine if it’s ready – chicken is perfectly and fully cooked at 165 degrees.

Stuffed Brussel Sprouts

While the chicken is baking, you can make the brussel sprouts side dish.  Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 8ish organic brussel sprouts (mine were small to medium sized and made plenty for two people)
  • 3 tablespoons organic greek yogurt
  • 1-2 tablespoon raspberry-chipotle sauce (optional, but I love the stuff)
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon chopped basil
  • 1 teaspoon chopped thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chopped oregano
  • 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs (I put my sprouted bread in a food processor for the fresh, cheap kind)

First, boil 4 cups of water and put your washed brussel sprouts in the pot for 1-2 minutes to blanch them.  Basically, when they turn bright green, take them out and put them in a colander to drain them and let cool.  Blanching them makes them easy to cut and core. Once cool, chop the ends off and cut in half. Next, take a paring knife and cut the stem part just enough to where you can pull out the inner part of the sprout, just leaving an outer shell for stuffing. (There’s lots of videos online showing how to do this if you need a better visual.)  After separating the inner sprouts from outer leaves, put the inner parts in a food processor with the garlic and chop until fine.  Then, saute your inner sprouts and garlic in some olive oil until tender.  Once cooked, mix in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients and stir to mix everything together. Lastly, fill the sprout shells with the mixture, overfilling each a little bit and arrange on a baking sheet lined with foil.  Put in the oven with your chicken (375 degrees) for 10-15 minutes, until the tops and outer shells are browned.

Happy Cooking!

– Christine